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March 24, 2023

December 21, 2023

Jurors in Clay County decided that a doctor did not act negligently in writing a letter that helped get an elderly woman admitted to a nursing home against her wishes.

“Her sister moved her out of the long-term care facility, and they sued the doctor for writing the letter in the first place,” said John Hicks of Norris Keplinger Hicks & Welder.

Hicks represented Dr. Erin Schreier in the suit filed by Paula Long, who was unwillingly committed to a nursing home in 2019 by her children under a durable power of attorney agreement. The suit said Long was “physically and chemically restrained” from leaving the facility.

Later, Long was transferred to a psychiatric institution which, according to her suit, “determined that Mrs. Long did not have Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia and was entirely capable of making her own decisions.” The power of attorney was then revoked.

Hicks said that his client’s letter, which helped activate the power of attorney, was the proper action and that Long had been exhibiting paranoia towards family, was having serious memory problems and that the examination by the hospital may not have revealed her true condition.

Hicks said that the plaintiff was not able to take care of her own finances or certain aspects of her personal care and that her ability to live independently was made possible by her children’s efforts to help her.

Hicks said he spoke with members of the panel who indicated his client had not acted inappropriately.

“They thought this was largely a family dispute and had nothing at all to do with the doctor,” he said.

Hicks said that the plaintiff sought $500,000 in pain and suffering with more than $84,000 additional for medical bills.

Bradley Honnold and Jacob Adair of Goza & Honnold, who represented the plaintiff, did not return a request for comment.

This article was written by David Baugher and published in Missouri Lawyers Media.